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A Writing Workshop: one teachers approach
from Corbett Harrison, NNWP Consultant

Structure of my Workshop:
For many years as a teacher, I successfully implemented a Writing Workshop in my classroom.
Authentic writing poured from my students during those semesters. The topics that were written about
belonged to my students; the structure of their writing time was mine. Ideas seemed recklessly up for
grabs at times, yet learning always occurred. It was an exciting time to teach, and it was my Writing
Workshop that made it happen inside my classroom.
I based my classroom workshop on a presentation Id seen by fellow NNWP-consultant Candy
Carter up at McQueen High School. I had only been a Writing Project consultant for less than a year
then, and I was still looking for better ways to structure the writing classroom I was attempting to build.
When students came back to me the following fall, I introduced them to a new structure that would
dominate my classroom. Candy had generously shared her workshop format, which ended up being
subtly different structurally from my own. When it comes to a Writing Workshop, I think its good when
teachers dont take exact structures from fellow teachers; workshops need to be 50 percent borrowed, 50
percent self-created. Take what you want from these following pages, but dont integrate yours exactly
like mine. Add those pieces that make the workshop unique to your style of teaching.

My Writing Workshop schedule:
My Writing Workshops overarching goal & schedule:
In eighteen weeks, students will take 5 papers completely through the writing process. Ideas for writing
topics will be explored through the students daily use of journals in response to class curriculum. Ideas
are then drafted into papers and worked through the entire process on the one day a week committed to
Writing Workshop. Final drafts are reflected upon, and they end up in the students portfolios.

The first assignment for their portfolios will be a highly-structured, all-class assignment that should take 3
to 4 weeks to finish. The entire class walks step-by-step through the writing process (drafting,
responding, revising, editing, and publishing) with this first paper, so they can independently repeat the
process four more times. All topics after the first assignment are to be chosen by the students.

Three different genres will be represented in each students portfolio at the end of this process, and the
portfolio papers will be scored using a 6-traits rubric. Mini-lessons on the different genres and the 6 traits
will occur throughout the semester.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Daily journal write
(5-10 minutes)
Students use journals
to explore topics that
might become larger
papers on Fridays.
Optional journal
prompts asked them to
explore themes from
my classrooms
literature.
Daily journal write
(5-10 minutes)
Students use journals
to explore topics that
might become larger
papers on Fridays.
Optional journal
prompts asked them to
explore themes from
my classrooms
literature.
Daily journal write
(5-10 minutes)
Students use journals
to explore topics that
might become larger
papers on Fridays.
Optional journal
prompts asked them to
explore themes from
my classrooms
literature.
Daily journal write
(5-10 minutes)
Students use journals
to explore topics that
might become larger
papers on Fridays.
Optional journal
prompts asked them to
explore themes from
my classrooms
literature.
Writing Workshop
(Full period)

Students spend the
entire period drafting,
responding, revising,
editing, or publishing a
piece of writing that
will end up in their
portfolios.

My workshop worked this way: Monday through Thursday, we wrote in our journals. Our
journals were places to begin interesting idea development through writing. I challenged students with
daily journal writing time to either a) write what was on their minds or b) write their ideas on a topic of
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relevance to what was going on in class itself or in the classs literature. I warned them that they were
required to write to the assigned topic several times a week to make sure some of their writing linked back
to my curriculum. I needed student journals to be seen as places to not only write freely but also to write
about the big picture ideas from my daily lessons on literature and language.
My big picture for them was a five-paper portfolio; I had my students for 18 weeks, and I thought
they could achieve that if they were given one day out of the week (Friday) to take an idea from their
journals and attempt to turn it into a bigger statement through writing and the writing process. Had I done
this with a year-long class, I probably would have only increased the number of portfolio papers to eight,
but I would add harder assignment elements to one or two of the required portfolio assignments.
The first paper was a well-explained, step-by-step walk through the writing process. For three
weeks, we shaped an idea based on a mutual class assignment. We talked about the shape of our ideas
with each other. We learned how to take and make suggestions based on 6-trait mini-lessons throughout
those three weeks. Even the reluctant revised. As a class, we edited, and we created a final draft of the
idea that had begun as a simple writing prompt on the first or second day of class.
A week after the first paper was completed, I told them it was time to begin the same journey
again. I told them theyd be taking this journey four more times as the semester progressed, and the
product at the end of their explorations would determine the majority of their grades for the class. They
were to go back into their journals and find some smaller idea theyd written about and attempt to turn it
into a more profound piece of deeper thought. All this would be done through writing, of course. We
created portfolio folders to hold their first papers, which were graded using the traits as criteria, and
prepared space for the next four papers to come. On Fridays, they learned the routine: a) check-in with
Mr. Harrison by telling him where you are in the writing process with your current portfolio assignment
and b) be able to show that youve made it to the next step in the process by the end of workshop.
Thoughts moved in and out of my classroom as the students took their portfolio responsibilities to
task. Ideas to write about were discovered both independently and from classroom discussions. My
students approached journaling in a different way those years. They began to understand that the five to
ten minutes I gave them daily to write their ideas had an important purpose. They liked their journals.
They saw them more authentically.
Some struggled to fill their portfolios with five papers. Many had the time to write moresix or
sometimes seven papers; I told those students that six papers would earn them a place on the Hall of Fame
Poster Id created, whichbelieve it or notwas actually a good enough incentive. Id also told these
students that seven carefully crafted papers was the only guaranteed way to get an A in my class these
days, and that information kept them focused on their portfolios for all eighteen Fridays we wrote
together. I always passed the students who made it through three or four of the paper assignments, as
long as they never got caught goofing off during Friday writing time. Both my special education and
English language learning students succeeded within this structure.
The first year I tried it, I had much success but equal amounts of struggle. I modified for year two,
but it wasnt until year three that I felt I had it to where I wanted it. I used it in all my classes (I had
poetry, mythology, and sophomore composition back then) because it worked so well with any type of
curriculum. My students got it! They realized how they were required to think while in my classroom,
and that the majority of their grade was earned while taking five of their independent thoughts through the
writing process.
I loved my classroom those years. I remember my students by their papers, by their independent
explorations through writing. There was excitement in my classroom back then, and our daily lessons,
when we werent doing the Friday workshop thing, often ended with questions like, Can write about this
[what we had learned that day] and put it in our portfolio? Writing Workshop built a great community
for my classroom.
My Writing Workshop resources are found on the next 16 pages.
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A Writing Workshop
Introductory Handout for Students

Keep this page with your writing folder. During the course of the semester, you will be required to
turn in five separate, polished pieces that show your developing skills as a writer. Each piece must
be thorough and complete. Not having five polished and revised pieces in your portfolio at the end
of the semester might cost you your English credit.

The topics for your pieces are to be your own choice, but you may use any ideas, literature, or
journal pieces from class to help you choose a topic for your paper. At the end of the semester,
your portfolio must contain the following:
1 creative piece................purpose: to entertain the reader
1 informative piece..............purpose: to present factual information
1 persuasive piece..............purpose: to examine a controversy
2 "own choice" pieces...........purpose: any purpose
See the attached page for explanations of these types of writing.

Fridays will be Writing Workshop in class. You must use this time to compose or improve your
papers or you will not get all five papers done by the semester's end.

The process: (Follow this guide when writing all five papers)
1. Choose any of the types of writing from the next two pages of this handout.
2. Compose a rough draft (minimum: 1 1/2 pages) that expresses your story/idea from
beginning to end. A rough draft completely attempts to explore a topic or an idea.
3. Have two responders respond to your paper. Your responders need to be people willing
to suggest improvements, not just people who will tell you how good your paper is. One
of your responders can be someone not in this English class.
4. Compose a second draft based on your first two responders comments and any teacher
suggestions. Make sure that you include more detail and begin focusing on
spelling/punctuation on the second draft (minimum: 2 pages).
5. Turn in your rough and second drafts to your teacher by placing it in the "Needs to be
read" file on the teacher's desk. Allow several days for your teacher to read your second
draft.
6. Write a third and final draft of your paper that is as perfect as you can make it (minimum
2 pages). This final draft must follow these criteria:
a. Final drafts must be written in ink or typed. If typed, they must use double
spacing between lines;
b. Final drafts must be written neatly on only one side of the paper;
c. Final drafts must be stapled on top of the first and second drafts of the same
assignment;
d. Only one final draft can be turned in each week. Don't put off all your final drafts
until the last weeks of the semester or they will not be read.
7. After you've seen your final draft grade, place all three drafts of each completed paper in
your classroom portfolio. At the end of the semester, all five of your papers must be
located in the portfolio in order to earn your grade. Update your portfolio checklist when
each paper is returned.
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Creative Papers:
A creative paper is a story created by the writer to entertain the reader. The story created can be
completely fictional, loosely based on fact, or completely based on fact but told in an interesting,
exciting way. I look for the following when I grade creative papers:

1. A good use of interesting vocabulary, especially with verbs and adjectives.
2. Characters that have been described so well that I can see them in my mind as I
read.
3. Settings that have been described so well that I can see them in my mind as I
read.
4. Action that makes sense and whose purpose is explained creatively by the writer.
5. A good, attention-grabbing or thought-provoking introduction and conclusion.

Informative Papers:
An informative paper is a paper that proves the writer has knowledge about a topic. It introduces its
topic, discusses several aspects of the topic, and uses facts to support the paper. I look for the
following when I grade informative papers:

1. A thorough introduction to the paper's topic. Always introduce your informative
papers under the assumption that your reader has no idea what you paper's topic
is.
2. Thorough details which are factual and which show you truly have knowledge of
the given topic. Summarize, dont plagiarize!
3. An intelligent transition from thought to thought as you discuss the topic.
4. A thought-provoking, conclusive thought to leave the reader thinking even after
the paper is written.
5. Organization that keeps the paper's thoughts easy to follow.

Persuasive Papers:
A persuasive paper is a paper where the reader is shown several sides of a controversial issue,
including the writer's side. The paper should be designed to make the reader think about an issue,
without forcing an opinion on him/her. I look for the following when I grade persuasive papers:

1. A thorough introduction to the topic of controversy. Explain to the reader why it's
an important/interesting topic.
2. Organization that gives a fair amount of writing to show both sides of the issue.
Don't be biased or too subjective by talking more about one side over the other(s).
3. Persuasive facts are always a nice addition, especially facts that show why there's
a controversy in the first place.
4. A thought-provoking conclusion that lets the reader essentially make his/her own
choice in being persuaded.
5. Strong, interesting use of language that helps me hear the writers voice.

Own-choice Papers:
An own-choice paper can be any genre or writing, or take on any purpose of writing. Many own-
choice papers serve multiple purposes (to entertain and to persuade, for example). I look for the
following when I grade own-choice papers:

1. Commitment and conviction from the author on the topic chosen. Choose those
topics of most interest to you when writing an own-choice paper for portfolios.
2. Dedication and attention to the writing process and the writing traits when writing
any own-choice paper.
3. Simultaneous creativity and logic from the writer.
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Genres for papers
(Please keep this page in your journal or your portfolio)

You may choose any of these paper genres to base your papers; however,
once you have chosen one type of writing from these lists, you may not write a
second paper that is the exact same genre. Don't limit yourself to but one type of
writing when you craft these pieces for your portfolio; explore your horizons. As
an additional note, keep your paper-cleanliness rating at PG, please.

Some Creative Genres
A childrens book
A ghost story
A love story
An adventure story
A horror story
A mystery
A story with a flashback
A parody
A fake newspaper
An Old West story
A melodrama
A memoir
A magazine article
A comical piece of fiction
A comical true story
A science fiction story
A story about a bizarre person
A narrative about something that happened
A short play with several characters
A comic book
A love poem
A humorous poem
A poem that tells a story
A sensory description
A creative response to a poem
A creative response to a story
A creative response to a novel
Other (Ask your teacher, please)

Some Informative Genres
An interview
An expository essay on:
a. a famous person/writer
b. a historical event
c. a current event
d. a piece of literature
e. a topic of interest to you
A book report
A movie report
Detailed instructions for doing something
A family history
A news story
A research paper
A brochure
An informative poster series
Business letters or e-mail exchanges
Other (Ask your teacher, please)

Some Persuasive Genres
A letter to the editor
A book review to persuade another's
reading
A movie review to persuade another's
viewing
A "what if" scenario that forces reader to
think differently
A research paper that persuades immediate
action
A paper that defends one side in a
controversial issue
A paper that attacks one side in a
controversial issue
An advertising campaign
Other (Ask your teacher, please)
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A Writing Workshop: one teachers approach
(continued)

Response and Revision alternatives during a Workshop:

Training students to serve as quality responders is a key to a successful Writing
Workshop. Without guidance and good tools, student response stays at a very basic level
that can be seen as pointless by students, and that hurts the workshop approach.
I eventually developed many different tools to inspire quality response and
thoughtful revisions from students on the papers they crafted for their portfolios. On the
following four pages, you will find response sheets my students were trained to use as
they prepared to take their writings from rough draft to second draft. Over the years, I
developed many alternatives to this generic type of response. These alternatives include:

6 trait-based revision checklists (found in the revision section of this writing
guide);
6 trait-based revision contracts (found in the revision section of this writing
guide
Revision dice (found in the revision section of this writing guide)
Revision beach ball (found in the revision section of this guide)
Revision challenge games (found in the revision section of this writing
guide)
Internet-generated response (found at
http://www.eduplace.com/kids/hme/6_8/evalstation/index.html) for 6
th
8
th

graders.

I did discover over 6 years of running Writing Workshop that students appreciate
a variety of revision tools. When I used the same revision tool with my students for too
long, my tools became predictable and unchallenging for my students. Having a variety
of revision techniques at my fingertips ready to toss into my Writing Workshop helped
my students and I stay interested in our Writing Workshop challenges.

Does responding come easily to students? Of course not. In those first three-
weeks of school (while walking together through our first and only guided-paper for the
portfolio), multiple mini-lessons and much modeling were the basis for most of my
instruction. We practiced and set response group norms. We continued to learn through
mini-lessons the multiple ways of being a better responder and a thoughtful respondee as
the semester progresses. Dont sell response shortjust because its never easy to get
them to do it well. Work on quality responding skills in those first few weeks, continue
to remind them throughout your semester, and youll be amazed at how much better your
students get at it by the end of your semester together.
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Writer's name: _ _____ Responders name: _ ___________

Creative Paper Response Sheet
Student Instructions: Creative writing might not be easy to respond to well, so use
this response sheet as a guide more than a worksheet. Find 4-6 questions
from this list that somehow pertain to the story/narrative you are responding
to. Circle those questionsthen provide your response to all of them in one
of two places: a] on the draft itself (in the margins or on Post-its) or b] on a
sheet of lined paper that you staple alongside this response sheet to the draft
of the paper. Somewhere, you must respond in writing to 4-6 questions that
you circle from the list below:

1. Who are the most important characters in this writing? Are they described
enough to give you a good idea of who they are physically and what their
personalities are like? Comment/Suggest on one character from the writing
at least.
2. What is the setting for this story? Does the author include enough
information for you to see the setting in your mind as you read?
Comment/Suggest on one aspect of the setting from the writing.
3. A good story has conflict between the characters and something else. Does
the conflict make complete sense to you as you read the story? Ask, at least,
one question about the conflict that you have for the author as you finish the
paper.
4. Has the author effectively organized the story into paragraphs? If you cannot
easily understand why the author has divided the action into paragraphs,
mark the draft where you feel paragraphs should exist. Leave a short
comment that explains why you think a paragraph should be added.
5. Select five weak verbs from the author's draft and circle them. Suggest a
better, more exciting verb below for each circled verb.
6. Suggest four alternative titles for this story.
7. Does the story end effectively? When you reach the ending, do you feel
satisfied that enough of the story has been included in the paper that you've
read? Suggest one idea that you might add to the paper's ending.
8. Find eight weak nouns or adjectives. Underline them. Write suggestions for
improving those underlined words from the draft.
9. Comment/Suggest on the papers strongest moment.
10. Comment/Suggest on (with kindness!) the papers weakest moment.
11. Other topic I can comment on when responding to this story (write it below,
then circle number 11.):
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Writer's name: ______ Responders name: _______ _
Persuasive Paper Response Sheet
Student Instructions: Persuasive writing isnt easy to respond to, so use this
response sheet as a guide more than a worksheet. Find 4-6 questions from
this list that somehow pertain to the persuasive paper you are responding to.
Circle those questionsthen provide your response to all of them in one of
two places: a] on the draft itself (in the margins or on Post-its) or b] on a
sheet of lined paper that you staple alongside this response sheet to the draft
of the paper. Somewhere, you must respond in writing to 4-6 questions that
you circle from the list below:

1. After reading this paper, explain in your own words what you think the writer
was trying to persuade you to feel or do. Comment/Suggest on the chosen
topic.
2. Why even talk about this topic? Where does the writer explain why he/she is
putting these ideas in written form? If he/she does not include this in the
writing, comment/suggest on what might happen if he/she did.
3. To be persuasive, a paper might explain what could happen if one doesn't do
what the writer has suggested in writing. What did the writer suggest?
Comment/Suggest on how the writer helped the reader to see a better way
through the piece of writing.
4. Is the introduction to this paper interesting? Does it grab your attention right
off? Suggest a way for the author to make the entire introductory paragraph
even more interesting.
5. Does the conclusion leave you satisfiedor anxious to change the way you
think? Is a final plea of persuasion given at the very end? Suggest a way for
the paper's conclusion to be even more persuasive.
6. Do you have any questions of the author? Ask at least one question that you
feel the author needs to answer for you to be completely persuaded?
7. Effective persuasive writing requires writers to not only present their side of
an issue but also to mention the opposing side of the same issue. Does the
writer do that? If not, suggest a place in the paper for the author to mention
the opposition.
8. Does the author back up his/her persuasive idea with any facts. Suggest a
place where facts would help you to agree with the author's argument even
more. Should/Can the facts be cited to improve his/her believability.
9. Comment/Suggest on the papers strongest moment.
10. Comment/Suggest on (with kindness!) the papers weakest moment.
11. Other topic I can comment on when responding to this paper (write it below,
then circle number 11):
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Writer's name: _ _____ Responders name: _________ _

I nformative Paper Response Sheet
Student Instructions: Informative writing isnt easy to respond to, so use this
response sheet as a guide more than a worksheet. Find 4-6 questions from
this list that somehow pertain to the essay/report you are responding to.
Circle those questionsthen provide your response to all of them in one of
two places: a] on the draft itself (in the margins or on Post-its) or b] on a
sheet of lined paper that you staple alongside this response sheet to the draft
of the paper. Somewhere, you must respond in writing to 4-6 questions that
you circle from the list below:

1. Comment/Suggest on why you think this writer wrote about this topic in the
way that he/she chose to write about the topic.
2. Is the introduction to this paper interesting enough? Does it grab your
attention and make you want to read on what could be a rather dull topic, if
not written well? Suggest a way that the writer could make the entire
introductory paragraph even more interesting.
3. Has the paper been organized into paragraphs? Does each paragraph focus
on one specific idea or too many ideas? If the writer needs more paragraphs,
mark on the draft where you feel the paragraphs should occur and explain
why in as few words as possible to the writer.
4. After reading this paper, why do you think the writer wrote it? Were you ever
told in the writing what the purpose of the writing was? Comment/suggest on
how the author has indicated his/her purpose in writing.
5. How do you feel about the author's conclusion to this informative paper?
Does it sum up all that you should have learned or leave you a little
confused? Suggest a way the author can make the conclusion more helpful to
the reader.
6. A well-written informative paper includes interesting, well-chosen facts that
help build the papers interest-level. Circle the three most interesting facts in
the paper. Do these facts tend to all be located in the same place in the
paper? If so, suggest how the author could spread the facts out evenly. Or
comment on any facts that might be made more interesting.
7. Are there any points in this paper where you became confused? Mark the
confusing points on the draft, and suggest a way to remove the confusion.
8. Highlight two facts in the paper where the author has not mentioned where
he/she found the facts. Comment on whether the facts might be better and
more believable if they were cited?
9. Comment/Suggest on the papers strongest moment.
10. Comment/Suggest on (with kindness!) the papers weakest moment.
11. Other topic I can comment on when responding to this paper (write it below,
then circle number 11):
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Writer's name: _ _____ Responders name: _ ___________

Poetry Response Sheet
Student Instructions: Poetry isnt easy to respond to, so use this response sheet as a guide more
than a worksheet. Find 3-5 questions from this list that somehow pertain to the poem you
are responding to. Circle those questionsthen provide your response to all of them in one
of two places: a] on the poem itself (in the margins or on Post-its) or b] on a sheet of
lined paper that you staple alongside this response sheet to the draft of the poem.
Somewhere, you must respond in writing to 3-5 questions that you circle from the list
below:

1. A poem should attempt to describe something or some occurrence in a way that it has
never been described before. Unique description: thats what a poem is.
Comment/Suggest on this poets use of unique descriptions inside the poem.
2. Some poets use rhyme as one of the poetic writing tools (often called poetic devices)
that help make the description unique. If this poet used rhyme as one of the poems
devices, comment/suggest on the poets use of rhyme.
3. Some poets use imagery as one of the poetic writing tools (often called poetic devices)
that help make the description unique. Imagery in poetry means adding words and
phrases that affect all five of the senses when describing. If this poet used imagery as
one of the poems devices, comment/suggest on the poets use of imagery.
4. Some poets use simile or metaphor as one of the poetic writing tools (often called poetic
devices) that help make the description unique. Simile and metaphor in poetry means
comparing things in very unique ways. If this poet used simile or metaphor as one of
the poems devices, comment/suggest on the poets use of simile or metaphor.
5. Some poets use personification as one of the poetic writing tools (often called poetic
devices) that help make the description unique. Personification in poetry means to treat
non-living things as if they were alivein an attempt to describe uniquely. If this poet
used personification as one of the poems devices, comment/suggest on the poets use
of personification.
6. Some poets use rhythm or onomatopoeia as one of the poetic writing tools (often called
poetic devices) that help make the description unique. Rhythm in poetry means adding
words and phrases that make the words sound more interesting...perhaps when read
aloud you can hear a beat. Onomatopoeia means using many words that impersonate
sound effects to give the poem a more interesting sound. If this poet used rhythm or
onomatopoeia as one of the poems devices, comment/suggest on the poets use of
rhythm or onomatopoeia.
7. Comment/suggest on the form of the poem. Does it look enough like a poem? Does the
shape make the poem more interesting or meaningful somehow?
8. Comment/suggest on the word choice in the poem. Does the poem go out if its way to
use interesting verbs and precise adjectives and nouns?
9. Comment/suggest on the meaning of the poem. Does it leave its reader with a better
understanding the topic of the poem? Or with a more interesting perspective? What
was this poem trying to say about its subject matter?
10. Does the poem both begin and end well? Comment/suggest on the poems introduction
and conclusion.
11. Suggest four alternative titles for this poets piece of writing.
12. Other topic I can comment on when responding to this poem (write it below, then circle
number 12):
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A Writing Workshop: one teachers approach
(continued)

Teacher Response during Writing Workshop:

I chose to trust my students to make quality suggestions to one another when responding
to each others ideas. Eventually, I trained my students to also serve as competent editors to
each other.
In the early days of Writing Workshop in my classroom, I chose to not read all three of
the students drafts. At most, I was willing to read two, and I usually chose to be their editor
instead of their responder, and their final evaluator; they began to trust me most as a reader of
their second drafts, and they came to trust my competent editors eyes. And so, my students had
to get their first responses from each other; after revising, they could present the paper to me for
editing. They had to indicate on their second drafts where they had put most of their revision
ideas or else I would neither accept nor edit their paper; this kept them from simply copying their
rough drafts neateror printing it with bigger font to make it look longer.
When editing, I fixed errors that I suspected they would not know. My 30-watt stroke of
genius in the process was this: I highlighted those sentences that contained spelling or
conventional problems that I felt they should have knowledge on, at the very least because of my
classroom mini-lessons. I informed them that highlighted sentences needed to be fixed, but they
had to talk to each other to discover what the error of the highlighted sentence was.
Occasionally, I had to hand a student a second draft back that was almost completely highlighted
in yellow; I made certain to talk one-on-one with those students, as not to shut them down as
writers just because they struggle with conventions.
I also made trait-based comments on the whole paper, giving them suggestions on
something that would impress me if they attempted to better it in their final draft. The two pages
that follow are two versions of the 2
nd
draft editing sheets I used over the years. In addition to
editing, I liked to give students trait-based suggestions for improvement as they prepared to
publish their papers for their portfolios; these sheets gave me a fast and easy method to
communicate my thoughts to them

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Second Draft Response Sheet
Organization

Your score: /5

Things to work on:
Make a more interesting lead
Create a stronger conclusion
Re-think paragraph division
Improve transitions between
paragraphs
Eliminate one-sentence paragraphs
Improve pacing
Add more action to your action
Your paper needs a thesis statement




Voice

Your score: /5

Things to work on:
Make text more lively:
___use stronger verbs
___use stronger adjectives
Show more commitment to your ideas
Remember your intended audience
Put your personality behind the words
Read it aloud. Clear up awkwardness.
Make the sentences flow better by
using more conjunctions
Shorten overly long sentences
Avoid repetition
Get rid of get, got, gotten, and getting
Begin no sentences with And, But or So



Ideas/Development

Your score: /5

Things to work on:
Add more detail:
___really focus on setting
___paint pictures of your
characters
Eliminate unnecessary items
Focus on just one idea
Make marked descriptions more
clear
Make story more clear
Explain ideas with more detail
Plot is not strong enough
Cite borrowed information properly
Develop your argument more

Conventions

Your score: /5

Things to work on:
Check spelling more carefully
Conjunction punctuation (see
backside of this sheet for help)
Participle punctuation
Dialogue punctuation
Run-on sentences
Comma Splice sentences
Fragment sentences
___there vs. their vs. they're
___your vs. you're
___its vs. it's
___too vs. to vs. two
a lot =two words
Capitalize proper names
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13

Second Draft Response Sheet
Idea Development:
___ Show, dont tell
___ Strengthen setting details
___ Strengthen character details
___ Dont wander from the topic
___ Make your focus smaller
___ Make your focus broader
___ Favor quality details, not quantity
___ Add unique details
___ Add a personal experience
___ Cite your facts
___ Other:



Organization:
___ Improve introduction
___ Improve conclusion
___ Link introduction to conclusion
___ Not enough paragraphs
___ Too many paragraphs
___ Slow down
___ Speed up
___ Add transitions between
paragraphs
___ Create a more interesting title
___ Other:
Voice:
___ Interact more with your reader
___ Sound more interested in what
youre writing about
___ Take more of a risk with your topi
___ Commit to your message
___ Add honesty
___ Add personality
___ Consider your audience more:
___ Other:
Word Choice:
___ Strengthen verbs
___ Strengthen adjectives and nouns:
___ Dont use words that dont sound
like you.
___ Take some risks with your words:
___ Use words that enhance mood:
___ Use words that color:
___ Other:




Sentence Fluency:
___ Vary your sentence beginnings
___ Vary your transition words
___ Vary your sentence lengths
___ Add some parallelism
___ Add more complex sentences
___ Add simple sentences for rhythm
___ Other:



Conventions:
___ Spell check very carefully
___ Comma check very carefully
___ Apostrophe check very carefully
___ Period check very carefully
___ Dialogue check very carefully
___ Run-on check very carefully
___ Comma Splice check very carefull
___ Homonym check very carefully
___ Other:
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14

Portfolios in my Workshop:

75% of my students grade was based on the pieces that made it to their portfolios.
Not just the pieces were evaluated, but the steps of their writing process. I was teaching my
students to use writing as their means to build and hone deeper thinking. Writing was their
primary means to prove they were thinking about classroom topics. Their topics were loosely
or directly based on the literature we were reading. Had I been teaching science or social
studies, I could have kept the same system in place and built student thought towards
different curriculums through a Writing Workshop. Writing Workshop became less about the
writing process and more about the importance of voicing thinking through writing.
In my class, our workshop was their time to honor their independent thinking and
each others independent thinking. Along the way came my independent thoughts about their
attention to all six of the writing traits, so writing was learnedbut mostly it was about the
thinking.
Their thinking didnt stop when they polished their second drafts into final drafts and
dropped them in my box to have their entire process graded. After I had given them their
summative grade, they reflected back on their process and recorded commentary in their
portfolios. This commentary was talked about before the student began working on the next
piece for the portfolio. We used portfolio checklists to keep them focused on the bigger
goals. My portfolio checklist can be found on the following page.

Variations of Writing Workshop:

I love visiting classrooms that use Writing Workshop. Ive seen them used
successfully with second graders, and Ive seen them used successfully at the college level.
The variations are always there, and thats what I enjoy looking for. Good writing teachers
are masters of varying things to fit their classrooms style and subject matter.
I have included the variation I created for a Poetry Writing Workshop. I taught a class
called Poetry for several semesters, which is why I invented the variation. As an
experiment though, I used the same variation for my Freshman English class one semester.
We were reading novels and non-fiction at the time, and for one semester, I decided they
would develop their thinking through poetic writing. Of course, they had to learn basics
about poetry in order to complete the required portfolios, but poetry was not our curricular
focus; instead, poetry was our means to think about non-fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird, and
Animal Farm. It turned out to be an amazing semester of writing and thinking.
The handouts I used for my Poetry Writing Workshop can be found on the 3 pages
following the portfolio checklist.

This document found on-line at http://corbettharrison.com
15

Student Portfolio Checklist
Paper #1: Title:_____________________________________ Final score:____
Purpose: To inform Score before final draft:____

What writing skill is this paper a good example of?_____________________
My opinion on this piece of writing can be summed up in these 25 words:



Paper #2: Title:_____________________________________ Final score:____
Purpose: To persuade Score before final draft:____

What writing skill is this paper a good example of?_____________________
My opinion on this piece of writing can be summed up in these 25 words:



Paper #3: Title:_____________________________________ Final score:____
Purpose: To entertain Score before final draft:____

What writing skill is this paper a good example of?_____________________
My opinion on this piece of writing can be summed up in these 25 words:


Paper #4: Title:_____________________________________ Final score:____
Purpose (Own choice)______________Score before final draft:____

What writing skill is this paper a good example of?_____________________
My opinion on this piece of writing can be summed up in these 25 words:



Paper #5: Title:_____________________________________ Final score:____
Purpose (Own choice)______________Score before final draft:____

What writing skill is this paper a good example of?_____________________
My opinion on this piece of writing can be summed up in these 25 words:


This document found on-line at http://corbettharrison.com
16
Writing Workshop: Poetry for a Semester
Introductory Handout for Students

Fridays will always be devoted to our Poetry Writing Workshop. Writing Workshop is a
6-step process where you will learn more about writing poetry as you explore your and other
students' attempts at creating poems about self-chosen topics. Everyone will be required to
participate in the process, your end product being 12 refined poems that you will publish for your
writing portion of this course. Your writing grade constitutes 40% of your final grade in this class,
but no one can pass this class unless they have published 10 poems at the semester's end by
using Fridays Writing Workshop.
I consider the Writing Workshop process to be one of the most valuable experiences of
this class. Please commit yourself fully to the end product: your Poetry Portfolio.
Attached, you will find your poetry checklist. It will go in your Poetry Portfolio, which is to
be stored in class. Eight of your twelve assignments will have teacher expectations attached to
them; the other four assignments may become any type of original poem you decide to build.
The eight required assignments will be assigned in class at some point, and you will include
these assignments into Writing Workshop pieces for your portfolio.

The 6-Step Process for Writing Workshop:
(Please refer to this page until you have this process memorized)
1. Write a rough draft of a poem based on a topic which you feel you have something
to say. Each rough draft needs to be theme-oriented, so choose a good topic and
have an opinion about it; build a statement about an idea as you write a rough draft.

2. Attach a rough-draft response sheet on top of your rough draft. Have another
student in the class answer the response sheets questions after he/she has read
your poem several times. You may choose to have a second fellow student respond
if your first reader hasn't been thorough enough.

3. Based on rough draft suggestions, create a second draft to be edited by your
teacher. Be extra careful with spelling and punctuation with your second draft, and
try to expand on or re-shape the idea you began in your rough draft. Staple your
second draft on top of your rough draft.

4. Attach a blank sheet of paper on top of the second draft of your poem. On it, write a
note to your teacher that explains how you have tried to improve your poem since its
rough draft. Your teacher will read it within 72 hours and hand it back to you. You
may turn in your second drafts any day of the week, not just on Fridays.

5. Based on your teachers suggestions, create a neat final draft that is either typed or
neatly written on unlined paper. Decorated poems will earn extra credit. Turn your
final poem, paper-clipped on top of the poems other two drafts, in to your teacher for
a final grade.

6. After it's graded, place your poem in your portfolio folder and update your Poetry
Portfolio Checklist.
This document found on-line at http://corbettharrison.com
17
Poetry Portfolio Checklist

Poetry Piece #1:
Own choice poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #5:
Poem about Poetry
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #9:
Rhyming Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #2:
Own choice poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #6:
Personification Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #10:
Imagery Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #3:
Own choice poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #7:
Sound Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #11:
Color Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #4:
Own choice poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #8:
Where Im From Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
Poetry Piece #12:
Rhythm Poem
Title:

Final Draft done on: ________

Final Draft score:___________

Self-rate your own poem:
1 2 3 4 5
(circle one; 1 = low, 5 = high)
This document found on-line at http://corbettharrison.com
18
Rules for Workshopping Poets:
(posted every Friday on overhead)

1. You will be given a participation grade every Friday.
Be sure to keep yourself active in the process. If
you're not reading someone else's poem, you need to
be writing one of your own or talking to your teacher
about one.

2. Rough drafts must be, at least, half a page in length.
Second drafts need to show an attempt to expand
your rough draft's ideas. These requirements become
part of your final poem's grade.

3. You may have someone outside of the class respond
to your rough drafts, but they must do a quality job
or you will have to find an additional responder. Mr.
Harrison does check to make sure you get and give
good responses!

4. Final drafts must be typed or written neatly in ink on
unlined paper. You will need to rewrite your final if it
doesn't match do these things. Decorated poems
earn extra credit and make your portfolio impressive.

5. Each week has limits: you may turn in one final draft
and one second draft only. This is to make sure that
you don't wait until the end of the semester to
suddenly complete all of your poetry assignments.
Workshop is an on-going process, so you should be
turning things in regularly.

6. Be the most creative person you can as you
workshop your poems. That's how youll earn a good
grade with your Poetry Portfolio.

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